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August 14, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Utility commission staff: PSE should lower — not raise — rates

It’s time for energy rates to go down, not up, says the staff of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

In testimony filed today, the regulatory staff rejected Puget Sound Energy’s July request to increase electric rates by 0.02 percent, recommending instead that the utility reduce its electric revenue by 0.77 percent by December,  a cut that would cut the average customer’s electric bill by 0.81 percent, according to a release from the commission.

The recommendation isn’t an official decision. Staff members only advise; it’s up to the three members of the commission to approve or reject PSE’s request. That will happen in the fall.

But should it adopt the decrease proposed by its staff, an average residential customer (using 1,000 kilowatt-hours) would see a $0.79 per month reduction in electricity costs, for an average bill of $96.29, the release said.

PSE, which serves more than 1 million customers in the state, would feel the effect, too.  The release said PSE’s revenues would drop by about $15.8 million a year if rates decrease. Natural-gas rates would not be affected.

The company said last month that higher prices are necessary to support its three electricity-generating plants — Snoqualmie Falls, a 100-year-old hydroelectric plant in King County; Lower Baker River, a hydroelectric plant in Skagit and Whatcom counties; and Ferndale, a 290-megawatt gas-turbine plant in Whatcom County.

Comments | Topics: energy prices, PSE, utilities and transportation commission


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